It’s been a while since we got some news from the Wicked movie adaptation, but today film director Jon. M Chu took to Twitter to make a major announcement about the movie. Or rather, movies. The filmmaker revealed that the Wicked experience will be split in two – meaning that fans and newcomers will have two Christmas presents that are set to be released a year apart from each other. The musical is centered around the witches from the land of Oz (as seen in The Wizard of Oz), and the unlikely friendship that is formed between The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. They will be played by Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, respectively.
Through the official announcement, Chu revealed the team behind the Wicked adaptation is going through every creator’s nightmare: the decision to cut, reshape and adapt the story without losing its essence. This is especially difficult when adapting material that already has a massive fanbase, because there are some fan-favorite moments, characters, and (in this case) songs that simply can’t be left out. He stated:
“As we prepared this production over the last year, it became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to wrestle the story of ‘Wicked’ into a single film without doing some real damage to it. […] So we decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas […] With more space, we can tell the story of ‘Wicked’ as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys of these beloved characters.”
Even though this is good news, it’s still a punch to the gut to fans who have been anticipating the movie’s release. Wicked‘s production has suffered several delays since production started — the movie has been in the works ever since the stage musical broke the $1 billion mark in ticket sales, all the way back in 2004. We now seem to have a solid release date, but it’s still pretty far away. In an interview with Collider, director Chu had already mentioned the challenges of adapting a world-famous story and stated that “words really aren’t sufficient for what we’re going through. So for me, it’s [about] finding the truth of each song and working our way inside out of why that exists.”
Chu has extensive experience in telling musical stories: the director helmed two Justin Bieber documentaries and two Step Up movies. Recently, he directed the critically acclaimed adaptation of In the Heights, which was the perfect set-up for his next, Broadway-based project. Chu also directed extremely popular comedy Crazy Rich Asians, as well as Jem and the Holograms.
Wicked is a world-famous musical based on the best-selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by author Gregory McGuire. The story was adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It won Tonys and a Grammy, and it became one of Broadway’s longest running shows. The movie adaptation will mark international pop star Ariana Grande’s first major role in a feature film. She was recently in Don’t Look Up and had cameos in Men in Black: International and Zoolander 2.
The first part of Wicked is slated for a Christmas holiday release, in 2024. Part two premieres a year later, in December 2025. You can check out Chu’s announcement below: